Having recently helped Senegal qualify for a second appearance at the World Cup, Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye has shared the experience of witnessing his country’s debut at the quadrennial showpiece.
The Teranga Lions first appeared on the global event in the 2002 edition, with Korea and Japan as the co-hosts. And, surprisingly, they defeated defending champions France in their opening game, going on to a laudable quarterfinal exit.
Gueye, then a 12-year-old boy, revels in those historic moments.
“Of course I remember 2002. I was living in my village and whenever Senegal scored everyone was going out and shouting - putting music on after the game. So we cannot forget this moment,” Gueye was quoted as saying by Liverpool Echo.
“It was the first time Senegal was in the World Cup so I can’t forget it. It was the greatest moment we have had in football. Very proud.
“But this was a wonderful qualification for us and for our country because it was only our second qualification for our country.
“It is important for us. We enjoy our national team and now we are at our clubs we try to do our best for our club.
“Hopefully we can have same emotions as 2002. We have the team to make the Senegalese people proud and hopefully, we can do better than them.”
Gueye, part of a struggling Everton side, hopes to transfer the ‘positivity’ of steering the Teranga Lions to next year's World Cup in Russia - after more than a decade out - to revive the Merseysiders outfit's season.
“It was good to have these feelings. And I can bring that positivity to this club and help this team,” he said.
The former Lille midfielder has played 12 league games for Everton, placed a low 16th in the English top-flight log.